Francis Banks

Died 1777.

He was commissioned lieutenant on 31 March 1756 and promoted commander of the newly acquired fireship Proserpine 16 on 23 March 1757, joining the expedition to Rochefort and retaining her through to the following January. From the beginning of 1759 he commanded the sloop Swallow 14, escorting the victualler convoy to Admiral Sir Edward Hawke’s fleet, although he briefly commanded the Thames 32 on a temporary basis in September.

He was posted captain of the Rose 20 on 14 April 1760, going out to the Leeward Islands where he took the privateer Revanche on 13 November 1761. In January 1762 he commanded the Rose during the expedition to Martinique, and was one of the vessels detached under Captain Hon. Augustus John Hervey to St. Lucia. Having been appointed to the Lizard 28 in March, he helped escort troops from North America to serve at the reduction of Havana in June 1762 and he eventually paid her off in June 1763.

During 1770 he commanded the Niger 32, taking her out from Spithead to Gibraltar in May, and after visiting the Greek islands and Smyrna he remained in the Mediterranean until the spring of 1772.

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Captain Banks commanded a division of boats at the occupation of New York in 1776

Having been appointed to her earlier in the year he took the new Renown 50 out to North American waters in September 1775 and was left by the commander-in-chief with a small squadron to patrol the Nantucket Roads. His command was forced out of Boston in May 1776, later being attacked by five fireships in the North River and eventually being driven out to sea by rebel batteries and inclement weather. Her absence resulted in the capture by the colonials of several valuable transports which sailed into Boston being, unaware of the army’s earlier withdrawal.

During July to October 1776 he served in the New York campaign, flying a broad pennant and leading a small squadron that created a diversion in Hudson’s River whilst troop landings took place. Remaining in command of the Renown 50 he served at the occupation of Rhode Island on 8 December 1776, and with Commodore Sir Peter Parker’s squadron in the following months.

He died on 18 June 1777 at Newport, Rhode Island, where he was interred with the honours of war.

In early 1776 he was accused by a captive American master in the merchant service of ill-treating him and his contemporaries, principally by ordering them to strip off and be searched for money. The same master confirmed that another British captain had treated them with the expected courtesy.